Topics: Wit & Wisdom

JHU Analysis finds Wit & Wisdom and Geodes Help Build Knowledge

Great Minds

by Great Minds

August 23, 2023
JHU Analysis finds Wit & Wisdom and Geodes Help Build Knowledge

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Posted in: Aha! Blog > Wit & Wisdom Blog > Wit & Wisdom > JHU Analysis finds Wit & Wisdom and Geodes Help Build Knowledge

The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Institute for Education Policy developed a Knowledge Map™ for English language arts and analyzed Wit & Wisdom® and Geodes® for the knowledge they offer students about the world and the human condition. The Knowledge Map analysis includes:

  • a quality assessment of the texts included in the curricula;
  • Heat Maps that indicate how much exposure students receive in each domain of knowledge and in topics within those domains, within a grade and across grades; and
  • the coherence of each module or unit in the curricula.

Each of these knowledge components is explored below. Overall, Wit & Wisdom and Geodes received a high-quality score at all grade levels. When developing a knowledge-rich English language arts curriculum designed to support students’ knowledge building, important decisions are made about what topics to cover. As educators, the curriculum writers take topic selection seriously, ensuring that students have interesting topics to explore that will support their knowledge building and understanding of the world while prioritizing depth of knowledge and coherence. As a result, not all topics considered in the Knowledge Map analysis can be covered in a K–8 English language arts curriculum and K–2 readable text set.

Wit & Wisdom and Geodes support students in building knowledge about the world in the English language arts classroom and work in concert with knowledge-rich curricula in science, social studies and history, the arts, and other content areas. Students deserve content-rich materials and learning experiences across all content areas.

Quality Assessment finds Wit & Wisdom and Geodes to be of consistently high quality and supportive of knowledge building.

Wit & Wisdom and Geodes were highly rated by the Knowledge Map analysis with all grade levels meeting or exceeding the 70% threshold defined by JHU for high quality. The quality assessment reflects the quality of the texts in the modules independently as well as the overall coherence of each module’s core and supplemental texts. The overall quality score indicates how each grade level’s materials reinforce knowledge building on the topics of study.

Overall Quality Score

“Qualitatively, Wit & Wisdom and Geodes present high average quality scores, indicating that students receive instruction through strong, relevant materials. All evaluated grade levels met the 70% threshold for high quality, and scores ranged from seventy to eighty percent, suggesting that instruction is both well-designed and consistent through the entire curriculum.”

Knowledge Heat Maps reveal Wit & Wisdom and Geodes attend to focus topics deeply.

As a knowledge-building curriculum, Wit & Wisdom is designed to help students build knowledge on topics with depth. As reflected in the Knowledge Heat Maps by JHU, for those topics the curriculum covers, the knowledge building is strong. For example, art is a critical part of Wit & Wisdom and Geodes, which is clearly reflected in the Heat Map for the Visual Arts domain for grades K–5. Many topics in the Visual Arts domain receive exceptionally deep coverage, as indicated by deeper shades of blue.

“At the elementary level, Heat Map coverage is exemplary in many domains, indicating a robust curriculum with a wide variety of materials covering many subjects. In particular, artistic and literature domains perform extremely well in elementary grades, as well as the Social-Emotional domain.”


Screenshot 2023-08-21 at 11.44.21 AM






Interpreting Heat Maps

JHU organized Heat Maps by domain and then topics within a domain. Using the example above, the domain is Visual Arts and the topics within the domain are Architecture, Artists & Architects, Elements, Observation, and Types & Genres. Within each topic, JHU analyzed how many texts per grade level addressed those topics. The key below shows the correlation between color and number of texts related to that topic in that domain in the module.

No Text 1 Text 24 Texts 57 Texts 8+ Texts

Heat map color-coded rating scheme of knowledge building, where lighter blue indicates fewer texts and darker
blue indicates a larger number of texts.


All of the Heat Maps for grades K–8 can be found in the JHU report. The Heat Maps align with the content knowledge being taught throughout the modules. This alignment will be further discussed in the following section.

Wit & Wisdom and Geodes consistently engage students with high-quality texts in a coherent manner to facilitate students’ knowledge building.

The findings from the Heat Map and overall quality come together to paint a picture of knowledge building in the curriculum when the analysis turns to coherence. JHU’s analysis identified the highest rated module for coherence for each grade level starting in grade 2, and the findings are excerpted below. The following modules had the highest coherency, but keep in mind that all grade levels rated as high quality.

  • Grade 2 Module 3: JHU found the “coherence analysis indicated a strong knowledge build, especially in the Civil Rights & Splinter Movements, African American Experience, Social Awareness, and Society topics. Overall, this [module] provides a solid base for instruction.”
  • Grade 3 Module 4: JHU found “this module presents another strong knowledge build in the Artists & Architecture, Art Forms & Genres, and Elements topics within the Visual Arts domain.”
  • Grade 4 Module 4: JHU’s “analysis for unit coherency indicates several common topics, which include Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman Civilizations along with Native American Peoples.”
  • Grade 5 Module 2: JHU’s coherence analysis “indicates strong levels of reinforcement regarding the topics of Conflict Resolution and Relationship Skills.”
  • Grade 6 Module 4: JHU found “Global Histories, Culture, & Literature and Human Rights were two strong topics threaded through this unit. Almost all the texts shared one of these topics, indicating a strong coherency among materials.”
  • Grade 7 Module 4: JHU’s coherence analysis “reveals a strong knowledge build on the topics of Human Biology and Modern Medical Science & Forensics.”
  • Grade 8 Module 2: JHU’s analysis found the coherency score “suggests a strong knowledge build. All of the materials within this unit support the Warfare, Civil War, and Revolts topics.”

You can learn more about the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy’s Knowledge Map and review findings in depth at

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Topics: Wit & Wisdom